Weekending in New York City: food porn from Eataly

Categories: Photos

When I stepped over the threshold of Eataly on Fifth Avenue in New York City, my fear was confirmed: I was in hell.

The shop was teeming with tourists of all nationalities, snapping photos and chattering in unrecognizable languages, relentlessly charging through the store and knocking each other out of the way to look at pasta and meat and San Marzano tomatoes.

Little Italy is in trouble: New York has a new Italian Disneyland.

The 50,000 squarefoot grocery store was opened by Mario Batali as a mecca for Italian products, and its shelves are stocked with high-quality Italian goods, all imported from the home country. Slow Foods is also involved, partnering because the organization likes to expose people to the importance of eating well. (This is slightly confusing, since one of Slow Foods's primary tenets is ecological sustainability -- which seems a little questionable when you're importing everything you sell from thousands of miles away.)

Batali was actually there the same day I was, clad in a leather vest and leaning jauntily against a counter while a camera crew captured his beaming red face. At least, I think it was Batali. He was wearing so much pancake makeup it could have very well have been a wax representation -- which, given the surroundings, would not have been out of context.

The products themselves, though, were almost pornographically beautiful: quality meats and seafood and sauces, proffered by friendly teams behind counters. And the eat-in options were pretty stellar, too. So despite my borderline agoraphobia, I found I actually enjoyed the place. It just might be about ten years before I can muster the energy to return.

Now for the food porn.

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